Zoo turns orange with pumpkins for autumnal family festival
- Credit: Noah's Ark Zoo Farm
A bumper crop of more than 1,000 pumpkins is ready to be harvested at a Wraxall zoo.
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm will launch its autumnal themed event, Pumpkin Fest, on October 9.
From October 9-31, the event returns to the zoo, turning the zoo farm and farm shop autumnal bright orange for the month.
The festival features a ‘pick your own pumpkin’ patch populated with pumpkins planted and grown on site from elephant poo, with pumpkin-themed treats at the food barn and farm shop, an autumnal Top Trumps trail and special half-term activities.
Families will be able to grab a wheelbarrow or mini wheelbarrow for their children and adventure around the patch to pick out pumpkins of all shapes and colours.
Staff discovered pumpkins growing from an elephant dung pile a few years ago after elephants ate pumpkins and the undigested seeds self-planted to create an unexpected organic pumpkin patch.
Since then, the zoo's staff have planted and cared for a dedicated pumpkin patch which has had a bountiful harvest for the zoo’s grounds team.
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Michael Bradly, grounds manager, said: “It’s fantastic to see the result of our hard work. It has been the best year yet for our annual pumpkin harvest, from 100 in 2019 to well over 1,000 this year.
"They are particularly large this year as well, which could be due to the great pumpkin-growing weather we’ve had and the special zoo fertiliser we use.
“Pumpkins need a warm, sunny location with shelter from wind and soil that holds moisture. It’s also unique as the manure used comes from the zoo farm’s own animals, so they are very special pumpkins."
Noah’s Ark has been pursuing a green future, with elephants producing up to 150kg of dung per day, it is a sustainable solution for the zoo.
Pumpkin Fest will also feature special bug talks from October 25-29, where guests can discover more about their favourite little critters and get up close to some of the zoo’s exotic invertebrates.
The zoo’s Top Trumps trail also continues with vibrant autumnal colours and a free limited-edition card to celebrate the event; the giant African land snail, available on entry between October 1-31.
Autumn is a fabulous time for the zoo’s animals, with pumpkin treats spread over the enclosures for enrichment. Elephants, goats, capybaras and giant tortoises all love to eat pumpkins.
Curator Chris Wilkinson said: “Many of our animals absolutely love getting a special pumpkin treat. They can provide great enrichment for our meerkats to explore, our elephants to squash and our lions to play with.”
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm is open 10.30am–5pm over October with day tickets costing £18 for adults and £13 for children. From October 23-31 prices change to £19.95 for adults and £15.95 for children.